Mind Workstation Drum Machine

The Mind Workstation Ambience Generator is a very cool toy. The supplied elements and presets add a nice touch to any session. But have you tried loading your own audio samples? There’s all manner of fun things that can found and downloaded free (and legally!) off the net.

Here’s an example of using drum samples to form the audio beat.

Having downloaded some samples from somewhere like this, you’ll open up the Ambience Generator. Clicking the files icon next to “Add Element”, you’ll find and load the required sample (78 hi tom.wav works quite well at up to 10Hz). Because your samples are so short, you’ll need to shorten all the loop-smoothing crossfades (try setting Advanced/Fades all to 0.01 seconds). Back to the “General” tab an decide when you want the drum to play. If you want to use the sound as an entrainment beat, use “Intermittent, every X seconds” where X=1/frequency in hertz, or 60/beats per minute.

Click “Preview Ambience” and have a listen to what you’ve got. You’ll need to adjust the volume or random volume range until it sounds good to you, and tweak the loop fades if the sound is too muffled or if you get unpleasant pops between beats.

You can now add more sound/instruments/drumbeats. Repeat the above using lo tom, for example. Set everything  the same, except the timing – if you had the hi tom at 5Hz (0.2 second), try the lo tom at 1Hz (1 second).

Depending upon what you’ve put in the ambience track, you can now add effects. Reverb and 3D placement work great with drumbeats. Be careful of echo, though, because it results in duplicate beats.

Only sounds that are shorter than a single beat at the required beat frequency work well, so drum samples are the best candidate for this most obvious use, but with the range of audio samples out there, plus the many you could capture yourself, there’s no limit to what can be arranged with the Ambience Generator, even using multiple ambience tracks.

Adding entrainment really only makes sense if the sound is not a beat in itself. You could easily add amplitude entrainment to a sound such as whalesong, and by having multiple whales, so that one is always singing, the entrainment rhythm would be constant.

Keep in mind that it takes a lot of processing to prepare complex sessions for play, so be patient, and if you’re wanting to eliminate the play-delay, export your session to an MP3 for general use. If you’ve created a particularly good ambience track you can export just it to an MP3 and then use it as a background track in MWS or NP2.

One of the things I like about MWS is that it’s a real toolbox. The tools don’t care what you make, and what you make is limited only by imagination.


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